Acting Pentagon chief announces U.S. military reduction in Iraq and Afghanistan

Members of Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team depart to conduct an gear survey of a Department of Public Works facility Aug. 8 in Afghanistan.

Photo: U.S. Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Timothy Chacon | Flickr CC

WASHINGTON — Acting Pentagon chief Christopher Miller stated Tuesday that the United States will cut back its military presence in Afghanistan to 2,500 troops and 2,500 troops in Iraq by Jan. 15.

The United States has roughly 4,500 troops at present in Afghanistan and greater than 3,000 in Iraq.

“This decision by the president is based on continuous engagement with his national security cabinet over the past several months including ongoing discussions with me and my colleagues across the United States government,” Miller stated on the Pentagon.

“And just this morning, I spoke with key leaders in Congress as well as our allies and partners abroad to update them on these plans in light of our shared approach,” Miller stated, including that he spoke with NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg and Afghanistan’s President Ghani on Tuesday. “We went in together, we adjust together and when the time is right, we will leave together,” Miller stated.

Earlier on Tuesday, Stoltenberg warned that leaving the war-torn country too soon or in an uncoordinated effort may current unintended penalties for the world’s largest military group.

“Afghanistan risks becoming once again a platform for international terrorists to plan and organize attacks on our homelands. And ISIS could rebuild in Afghanistan the terror caliphate it lost in Syria and Iraq,” the NATO chief stated, referring to Islamic State militants. 

In 2003, NATO joined the worldwide safety effort in Afghanistan and at present has greater than 7,000 troops in the nation. NATO’s safety operation in Afghanistan was launched after the alliance activated its mutual protection clause — referred to as Article 5 — for the primary time in the wake of the 9/11 assaults.

Last week, Miller ascended to the Pentagon’s appearing Secretary of Defense position after President Donald Trump’s sudden termination of Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

In an early Saturday morning message to Department of Defense employees, Miller stated he was “weary of war” and that it was time to finish America’s conflicts in the Middle East.

“We are not a people of perpetual war — it is the antithesis of everything for which we stand for which our ancestors fought. All wars must end,” Miller wrote, including that the U.S. was “on the verge of defeating Al Qaida and its associates.”

“We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home,” Miller wrote.

Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division collect their gear earlier than boarding a CH-47F Chinook that serves with the Task Force Flying Dragons, or 1st General Support Aviation Battalion., twenty fifth Avn. Regiment, sixteenth Combat Avn. Brigade, in the Nawa Valley, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan,

Photo: U.S. Army photograph by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston | FlickrCC

The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have value U.S. taxpayers greater than $1.57 trillion since Sept. 11, 2001, based on a Defense Department report. The struggle in Afghanistan, which has dragged on to grow to be America’s longest battle, started 19 years in the past and has value U.S. taxpayers $193 billion, based on the Pentagon.

Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on stopping “ridiculous endless wars” in the Middle East, took to Twitter final month to announce that American forces currently serving in Afghanistan will be home by Christmas.

At the time, it was unclear if Trump was giving an order through tweet or reiterating a long-held marketing campaign promise in order to attraction to voters forward of the U.S. presidential election.

Earlier this 12 months, the United States brokered a peace deal with the Taliban that may usher in a everlasting cease-fire and cut back the U.S. military’s footprint from roughly 13,000 to eight,600 by mid-July. And by May 2021, all international forces would depart the war-torn nation.

Trump has beforehand directed the Pentagon to scale back the U.S. preventing power in battle zones. 

In 2018, Trump tweeted that the United States can be withdrawing troops out of Syria, a transfer that despatched a shockwave via the Pentagon and contributed in half to the resignation of then-Defense Secretary James Mattis. Trump later reversed his choice to withdraw from Syria.

In May, Trump complained on Twitter that America’s position in Afghanistan has been lowered to a “police force” and not a “fighting force.”

When requested concerning the tweet by reporters throughout a White House occasion, Trump stated that the U.S. may return to Afghanistan if wanted.

“We can always go back if we have to. If we have to go back, we’ll go back, and we’ll go back raging,” Trump said in May.

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